The German Shepherd Dog is one of those iconic dog breeds that doesn’t need much of an introduction, given that they are among the most popular dog breeds in the United States. It is popular in many households but also famous within the law enforcement community and search and rescue operations contraband detection, among many other things.
But just because…
So many other folks have found them to be excellent dogs to own. Does that mean a German Shepherd will be “right” for you and your family? This is the question we hope to answer in this article so that if you’re ever allowed to own one of these excellent creatures, you’ll know if it will be a good fit for you! So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
German Shepherd Dog Breed Fast Facts
Country of Origin: Germany
Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 70-90 lbs
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Group: AKC Herding Group
German Shepherd Origins
The German Shepherd dog is a dog breed from Germany, as the name suggests. But what their name may not mean is that these guys were specifically bred and designed to be the “ultimate” shepherd dog. They were first developed by Captain Max von Stephanitz, a German military officer who wanted to produce the perfect dog for police and army work. His efforts were met with great success.
He was able to…
Develop an exceptional dog breed that is strikingly handsome, brilliant, athletic, and capable of almost anything. He was so good that he had virtually human-level intelligence. While these guys retained the “shepherd” roots and remained quite effective dogs on the farm, their innate intelligence created opportunities for them beyond the farm into different areas, including the military and the police, among other roles. This earned him the rapid acknowledgment by The American Kennel Club in 1912 and the development of the first German Shepherd Dog Club of America in 1913.
German Shepherd Dog Breed in America
Given that the German Shepherd Dog (GSD) was only really created in 1899, it didn’t take all that long for him to make his way to the United States because the first appearance of these guys on U.S. soil occurred shortly after in 1906. But the breed itself didn’t become widely popular in the United States until Hollywood got a “whiff” of one and decided to cast the role of Rin Tin Tin with an exceptional German Shepherd specimen, which helped the German Shepherd dog breed win over the hearts of America.
The GSD was very popular in America…
However, people forgot about him for a while – perhaps because of the hostility between the United States and Germany during World War II, which made just about “anything German” rather unpopular, even something so great as a German Shepherd! However, he was rediscovered in the 1980s when a GSD named Hatter performed exceptionally well in a dog show at the Westminster Kennel Club. Hatter was hugely popular with kids and drew a large crowd wherever he went.
Today, the German Shepherd Dog is the second most popular dog breed in the U.S., just behind the Labrador Retriever.
The German Shepherd is tall, large, athletic, and muscular. He is very sharp, agile, and quick-footed. He has a distinctive wedge-shaped muzzle, black nose, and strong teeth.
He has dark, almond-shaped eyes, which tell you exactly what he is thinking. He has bushy tails that hang down to the hock. The GSD has a unique double coat, usually tan and black or red and black. Some German Shepherds are all black.
Temperament and Personality
The German Shepherd makes for a perfect family dog. He is very protective of his human family and could do anything for you. However, he is known to get aggressive at times with strangers. He is also a self-confident dog, very energetic and active. He loves to exercise, and few dogs out there can look more handsome than he is in full flight!
Great with kids, the German Shepherd breed is known to bond very well with kids of any age. After all, as a member of the herding group, these guys come from a long line of ancestors who have been bred to believe you are a part of their pack, and as such, they will protect you with their lives!
Training and socialization are essential, as with any dog, particularly dogs of this size. The only difference in this situation is that if you attend a group training program, you will want to prepare yourself to stop “showing off” in classes because your German Shepherd will likely be the most intelligent dog in style.
One thing that you might want to look into is a unique dog sport called Schutzhun d, which was developed to train the dog in obedience, agility, and other essential skills, all of which your German Shepherd will excel at because, at the end, of the day, the German Shepherd is a very active dog.
He hates being…
He left by himself in the yard. He needs someone in the family to be with him and play with him, at least for a few minutes daily. He also has to take his daily walk. Otherwise, he can get restless. This is not a lazy dog who will want to sleep all day, which is probably the only factor that might dissuade you from owning a German Shepherd. Because if your ideal dog will want to lay in your lap or at your feet all day, a GSD is not the right dog for you!
Potential Health Concerns
The German Shepherd is a very healthy breed with a 13 to 15 years lifespan. However, he is susceptible to several health issues, such as arthritis and other joint problems. For example, he is also known to suffer from a genetic disorder called the Von Willebrand disease.
Here’s a complete list of health issues the German Shepherd could develop….
- Hip Dysplasia
- Osteochondrosis of the Knee/Spine
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat)
- Osteochondrosis of the Shoulder
- Corneal Dystrophy
- Compulsive Behaviors
- Degenerative Myelopathy
- Perianal Fistula
- Aortic Stenosis
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy
Phew! That’s a long list of ailments. Imagine the vet bills if your German Shepherd suffered from any of them. That’s why we always recommend that any German Shepherd owner take a few moments and consider purchasing a pet insurance policy for their new dog. This way, if their dog does develop one of these conditions, they won’t be on the hook for 100% of the medical costs.
Now, will a pet insurance policy be “right” for everyone?
No, of course not. But unless you have several thousand dollars set aside as a possible emergency fund or “Just in Case,” having a quality pet insurance policy could be a great alternative.
For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies, please check out Our Best Pet Insurance Companies List.